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Hot August in Ohio!

Gay Rodeo Saddles up to Gay Games this Summer

Community Event by Evan Kayne (From GayCalgary® Magazine, April 2014, page 29)
Hot August in Ohio!: Gay Rodeo Saddles up to Gay Games this Summer
Hot August in Ohio!: Gay Rodeo Saddles up to Gay Games this Summer
Hot August in Ohio!: Gay Rodeo Saddles up to Gay Games this Summer

The Cleveland and Akron, Ohio 9th annual Gay Games (August 9th to 16th) are roping up some extra excitement this year. This summer the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA) will be hosting a rodeo on August 10th and 11th  just outside of Akron in Tallmadge, Ohio.

Judy Munson, who you may know from her many years’ hard work on the ARGRA board of directors, is the chairperson of the Gay Games rodeo committee, and also the rodeo director. She is enthused about the chance IGRA has been given to bring two major events together.

Much like demonstration sports at the Olympic Games, the Gay Games tries to bring in a new sport each time they hold the event.

"Gay Games was interested in getting IGRA involved so they could have gay rodeo," Munson says. "This is the first time ever they had a full-on rodeo involved with it."

Rodeo events at the games is something that has been considered for some time – back in 1990 when the games were in Vancouver, they held a few related events, but nothing close to a full rodeo.

"This is a great big feather in the cap of IGRA and Gay show what gay rodeo is all about... we have a co-marketing agreement and we’re advertising for each other" Munson says.

People from all over the world will get a chance to see how much fun a gay rodeo can be. At this point in the Gay Games, the rodeo is not an official sport – it’s an affiliated event – but both organisations want to be connected to each other.

"Gay Games has been great...they’ve said, you’re the experts at running a rodeo, we know nothing about it, so you just do your thing and we’ll continue on with the sports we know how to run."

In many ways, it will be like a regular IGRA rodeo with roping events, speed events such as barrel racing on horseback, chute dogging, bull and steer riding, bucking broncos, and, of course, camp events. Camp events are unique to gay rodeo; beginners can participate in Goat Dressing, Steer Decorating, and Wild Drag Race, with some introductory training from experienced rodeo folk.

In addition, much like Munson’s rodeo held out in Strathmore, the Ohio rodeo will offer additional entertainment. A Wild West Dance at Miss Kitty’s Saloon will take place at the rodeo grounds on Sunday, August 10th and a huge Country and Western dance will be hosted on Monday. Western themed events will also be occurring during the day while the rodeo is going on, including singers, rope twirlers, dancers and dance lessons for people who want to try out two-step and line dancing.

"We want people to experience the entire western lifestyle the minute they walk through the gates," Munson says.

IGRA is hoping this team-up with the larger Gay Games celebration will bring new people into the gay rodeo experience. So far it’s working – they have new contestants signing up from around the world.

Many people also love the chance the rodeo gives them to see old friends. If you happen to be lucky enough to be down in Ohio for the rodeo or games, you might even see some familiar faces from Alberta. Munson and her partner Lori Andrews will be in attendance, as well as Jamie Cumberland and Rob Summers  among other members of ARGRA.

Being part of a huge event like the Gay Games means being shed in a larger spotlight, so we asked Munson if there were any concerns regarding animal welfare.

"We always have the SPCA check and approve everything we do... our events are very humane compared to mainstream rodeos," she says.

IGRA stresses that in gay rodeos events animal welfare and contestant safety are top priorities. Gay rodeos have many safety provisions in place to prevent injuries to the animals and the contestants. If people take the time to be educated and come and see what happens at a gay rodeo, they should see there is little cause for concern.

Munson also wants to stress that while this rodeo runs like any rodeo, "35 sports and 65 countries and over 11,000 athletes" will be featured. It’s a huge opportunity to showcase IGRA.

Though this is the first time Judy has been to a Gay Games the feedback she’s received from friends, and what she has seen in clips of the opening and closing ceremonies, has impressed upon her how amazing an opportunity and how fantastic an event this will be.

"Seeing all these cowboy hats walk in during the grand entry will just be overwhelming," she says. Hopefully it impresses the right people as well – we’d love to see this be the start of a long partnership between IGRA and the Gay Games.


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